Tag Archives: Jessica Redux

Jessica Redux – Chapter 4 – Scene 1

“Police are advising people to stay in their homes.  The infection can be spread through contact with infected victims.  Doctors have stated that the viruses are highly contagious and immediately lethal,” the strange voice echoed in Jessica’s mind.

Jessica’s head was laying against something and she was sitting in a chair.  The darkness wiped past.  A window?  Was she moving?

Looking up, she saw someone sitting next to her.  She was in a car and her head was lying against a window.  She took a moment to stare at the person next to her.

The driver was a young man with sandy blond hair and ornery eyes.  He appeared to be pretty tall and athletic and was wearing a green t-shirt that said Boston Celtics on it.  Something stirred inside her mind.

It wasn’t really a memory or even a recognition.  It was nothing more than a mental twitch, a spasm.  But that shadowy movement in her mind drifted toward a mental door where it opened something, something special.  There was a memory waiting behind that locked door.

Rabbit!  She was sitting in the car with Rabbit.  He was in trouble, but he must be okay.  Were they on a date?  He probably wouldn’t be able to get ice cream after their movie if had gotten in trouble.

She tried to ask him what movie they were going to watch, but nothing came out.  She wasn’t even sure if she was moving her mouth.  She tried, Jessica put all of her effort into forming the words, but no sound would come out.

“Don’t worry,” Rabbit said in a panicked voice. “We’re gonna get you help okay?”

Help?  Was something wrong?  Jessica tried to ask her boyfriend what was wrong.

“We just need to find a good doctor okay?” Rabbit said, steering the car through traffic.

Oh, it was her voice.  He wanted her to visit a doctor to get her voice back.  Then were they going to the movie?

Looking out the window, she noticed lights in the mirror.  They were different colors, they were pretty.  Red then blue then red then blue.  What were the lights, where were they coming from?

Lifting her head, Jessica looked over.  There was someone sitting next to her.  It was a young man and he was driving a car.  She must have been in a car.  Was she going somewhere?

Looking back, she noticed that they were pulling over.  She was in a car that was stopping on the side of the road.  Had they been going somewhere?  There were flashing lights in the mirror next to her.  They were red and then blue and then red and then blue.

“Officer Mark Sylvester, do you know …” Jessica heard a man’s voice say.

Looking over, she saw two men, one young and the other older.  Looking around, she realized she was in a car with the young man, he looked like he had been driving.  The older man was wearing a uniform of some kind.

“Miss?” the older man that called himself … what was it?  “Miss?  Are you okay miss?” he asked

“I’m trying to get her to a good doctor,” the young man said as the Officer ran around the car.

The officer opened the door next to Jessica and knelt down.  He was looking at her with his eyes wide open.  He was afraid.  Something about her scared him.  But he reached up and put his hand on her face, holding a light to her eyes.

She was looking in a mirror.  She looked horrible … and she looked horrific!  Her skin was drawn and pale.  It was festering and looked like it was rotting.  It had been stitched together in places, rough stitches designed just to hold the skin together, not actually repair it.  One of her eyes was dead, nothing but a pale orb and she was covered in blood, dried and caked blood.

And she was biting someone!  His screaming echoed in her ear, but she could also hear someone else yelling.  There were two voices.  There were two men’s voices, two men yelling as she bit someone on the arm.

Then there was a loud sound.  A thundering bang.  Gunshots.  The new sounds where gunshots!  Someone was shooting a gun and people were yelling.

A bullet punched through her chest and then another.  Nine in all.  Each bullet passed right through her.   Why didn’t they hurt?  Why was the man shooting her?

In the distance, the cries of police vehicles drew close.


Jessica Redux – Chapter 3 – Scene 3

It was the bright light again.  There were odd, hazy memories of a bright light that Jessica could locate in her mind.  But like before, there was blackness around them.

Was it a memory or was she just creating a memory from what she was seeing now?

She thought she could hear something, but the sounds were coming down a long tunnel to reach her.  They were muffled and echoed, bouncing down the corridor of her mind.  It took her moment to decipher them, but they were voices and the sounds of shuffling.  Someone was talking and moving around.

Jessica tried to turn her head to see what was happening, but the light was suddenly blacked out.  Someone was leaning over her.  It was an older man with hair the color of polished silver.

The man was holding a syringe and studying her carefully, “Now don’t worry Jessica, you won’t feel a thing here,” he said through a surgical mask.

The syringe disappeared from her sight and momentarily he pulled it back full of coagulated blood, “There we go, not even a pinch.”

Jessica wanted to say something, to ask him what he was doing.  Who was he?

Trying to push the words out, she managed a groan.  No other sound, no enunciation, no words.  She couldn’t communicate.  Where had her voice gone?

As if he could tell what she was thinking, the man smiled through his mask, “You don’t breathe anymore Jessica.  You have to breathe to talk.”

He lifted a gleaming scalpel and his hand disappeared from view, “Don’t worry, this will all be over soon.”

Lifting a piece of cut muscle, the man disappeared from her view.  Jessica tried to lift her head and see what he was doing, but she couldn’t move.  It was as if there was a hand holding her down.  Moving her eyes to the side, she managed to see a strap.

“Sorry about that,” the man with the mask said, reappearing in her vision.  “Your lucid periods are growing shorter so we had to strap you down.”

He lowered the scalpel again while still talking, “The viruses in your nerves are letting the cerebral cortex go.  You’re becoming more animalistic,” the man chuckled, “you’re a biter now.”

“GET AWAY FROM MY GIRLFRIEND!” Jessica heard a new voice say.

The voice echoed in her head.  She had heard it before.  It was an important voice, very important.  Rabbit!  She remembered Rabbit!  A floodgate of memories opened and they spilled into her mind like a tidal wave.  Her parents, her brother and sister, her boyfriend, school, all of it was coming back.

Had she just remembered something?  Her mind was empty, but something told her that it wasn’t really gone.  Where was she?

Jessica could see the man with the mask look up and his eyes grew wide, “Now just calm down sir,” he said, raising his hands.

“I SAID GET AWAY!!” Rabbit’s voice bellowed.

“Listen,” the man with the mask said while backing away, “She’s extremely dangerous.  You can’t take her out of here, she’s the source of the infection.”

Jessica was sitting up on a metal table and looking at her legs.  Her blue jeans were ruined.  They were covered with dried blood.  How did they get covered in blood?  And her sweater … it was torn and bloody too.

Looking up, she wanted to smile.  Harry “Rabbit” Updike was touching her face and saying something.

“It’s me Jessie,” Rabbit said, “I’m getting you out of here.  Are you okay?”

Was she smiling?  She couldn’t tell.  Jessica couldn’t feel her face.  She could only tell he was touching her because she could see him.  She wanted to tell him something, anything, but her mind was blank.

Trying to concentrate, she focused on breathing in so she could speak, but she couldn’t feel her chest.  If she could cry she would, but nothing would come out.  Dropping her head, she could see that Rabbit had a pistol in his hand.  That was how he made the man in the mask leave.

A long groan escaped her lips.

Rabbit though, was perfect.  He smiled widely and nodded.

“Don’t worry,” he helped her stand up, “I’m taking you out of here.  We’ll get you help.”

A voice responded, “You can’t young man.  She’s dead.”

“No she isn’t!” Rabbit yelled.

But Jessica knew the voice was right.  She was dead.

Jessica Redux – Chapter 3 – Scene 2

Jessica sat in the back of the car wondering where she was going.  She stared intently at her hands as they sat passively in her lap.  The car wasn’t actually moving, but she wouldn’t be in a car if she wasn’t going somewhere.  She wondered for a moment who would be driving.

There were voices, but she couldn’t see anybody in the car with her.  She recognized at least three distinct voices, but there were many more than that talking.  But who were they talking to?

“Dispatch!  Officer down!  I repeat.  Officer down!” one voice yelled.

“Shooting them doesn’t stop them!  Dispatch, did you catch that!?” another voice yelled.

“I’m sending more units your way!” a woman’s voice responded.

Looking around, she could see lights, flashing lights that were bright blue and gleaming red.  Over and over they flashed.  The lights were coming from everywhere.  Or was it nowhere?

Looking out the window, she could see two white vehicles with the fire and ice lights on top.  Men dressed in white were guiding a girl with missing fingers into one of them and a man dressed in blue into the other.

Jessica watched the girl pause.  Stop.  And then shake her head, throwing her brown hair left and right.  The girl’s legs froze and the men laid her down on the ground.

Was something wrong with her?

The girl’s muscles seized.  Her legs kicked out straight and her back arched causing the men in white to panic.  They put their hands on her neck, checking for something.  Her body shook and her head banged into the ground.  Foaming spittle rolled out of the girl’s mouth and her arms twisted and bent and clawed at the ground.

Then it was over.

One of the men pushed on her chest.  Up and down, he pushed on her chest with both hands.  Putting his ear by her mouth, he seemed to listen at her and then put his mouth on hers.  Seeming to breathe into her, he blew into her mouth several times before trying to push on her chest again.

While the man in white was working on the girl, the other men dropped the person in the blue uniform.  He, like the girl, was stiff, his muscles flexed.  But more screaming drew Jessica’s attention away.

There was a girl, young by the looks of her, with striking brown hair lying on the ground.  She had the face of a man in her hands, a man that was dressed in white.  She was biting at him, tearing at his cheeks with her teeth.

Who was she?  Why was she doing that?

The girl, missing three fingers off of one of her hands, didn’t seem angry.  She was biting the man out of fear, a primal response.  She was simply lashing out.

Jessica looked back at her hands.  They were there in her lap, but she couldn’t feel them.  They might as well have belonged to someone else.  But there was a thumping sound coming from them.

No, it was coming from beside her.

Looking up, Jessica wondered why she was in a car.  Was she going somewhere?  No, there was man letting her out.  The man must have taken her somewhere.

He was an older man with silvery hair and kind, but frightened eyes.  He didn’t say anything, but she could hear the screams of someone nearby and the voices of people all around.  There were a few voices that seemed familiar.

The man looked at her closely, “Jessica?” he asked.


“Jessica.  Can you hear me?” he asked in a calm voice.

Yes, she could hear him.

“You have to come with me Jessica,” he said.  “Do you understand me?  You have to come with me.”

There was voice next to her, “Don’t.  You can’t go with him.”

Jessica turned to see a gorgeous man with dark hair and blazing eyes sitting next to her.  He smiled to her, giving her his best comforting expression.

“You’re too important,” he said, “You can’t go with him.”

A third voice sounded over them both, “Go with the man Jessica.  For the sake of everyone, go with him.”

The undead girl looked to the front of the car and saw a winged creature drifting over the hood.  It’s body was composed of countless eyes and tongues and its head had four faces that looked in the cardinal directions.  An immeasurable number of wings held the creature aloft.

“Go,” it said to her in a calm and peaceful voice.  “Go.”

Following the silver-haired man, Jessica heard gunshots and screams.  They were the screams of a horrified woman.

“What’s happening to her!” the woman yelled.

“She won’t die!” a man’s voice answered.

Not sure why, Jessica sat down in a car and let a silver-haired man close the door next to her.

She won’t die … can’t die.

Jessica Redux – Chapter 3 – Scene 1

A bed is for sleeping, but Jessica wasn’t sleepy.  She wasn’t even sure if she had just woken up or was supposed to be going to sleep.  She was just sitting on the edge of a bed with her hands in her lap.

Was it her bed or did it below to somebody else?  It had to be her bed.  She wouldn’t wake up in another person’s bed.  She wasn’t that kind of girl.  She wouldn’t be lying down in their bed either.  So it must be her bed.

What was she supposed to do?  It was quiet, very quiet.  Trying to think, Jessica dug through the coffers of her mind.  It was like looking for a shoe in an empty room.  Her thoughts, like the shoe, were supposed to be there, but instead there was just nothingness, an empty pit with no thoughts, memories or feelings.

A door opened across the room and a girl looked in.  The girl had long brown hair and striking brown eyes.  She watched Jessica for a few moments before opening her mouth.  Jessica listened intently to the sounds as they echoed down the corridor of her hearing.

“Hey Jess,” the girl said, “Uh … how ya doin’?

Doing what?  Jessica didn’t know who the girl was.  Maybe there was a memory somewhere in the empty closet of her brain that she could find.  She should answer the girl.

The girl was standing in front of her, “Jess?  Can you hear me?” she asked.

A sound like a moan came from Jessica’s chest.  She didn’t know what the sound  was, where it came from or what it meant.

Someone else entered the room quickly, two people.  There was a man and a woman that were older than the girl.  Confused, Jessica wondered where all the people where coming from, she wondered who they were and what they wanted.

“Kayla,” the woman put her hands on the girl’s shoulder, “I don’t think she can answer you.”

There was water coming out of the young girl’s eyes.  Why would water come out of her eyes?

“Is she going ..?” the girl started to try to ask, but the woman stopped her.

“No,” the woman said, “She’s not.  We thought she passed at the hospital.”

Jessica was confused.  Did somebody die?  Who were these people talking about?

Rabbit!  That had to be it.  She remembered that Rabbit had been in trouble.  She heard the strange groan happen again.  She wanted to cry, she wanted to be upset, but couldn’t find any feelings in the emptiness in her brain.

“The doctor is coming with the police Kayla,” the man said.  “They think the viruses worked, but want to be sure.”

“Viruses?” Kayla asked.  “They turned my sister into some Resident Evil zombie!?”

It looked like the girl was getting more upset.  She said someone was a zombie.  Were they watching a movie?  Maybe the girl named Kayla was scared by a zombie movie.

“No,” the woman grabbed the girl and turned her so she could speak directly to her, “They tried to give us a little more time with her okay?”

The girl tried to pull away, but the woman yanked her back, “Listen to me Kayla, your sister is dying …”

“THEN GET HER TO THE HOSPITAL!!” Kayla shrieked while more water poured out of her eyes.

The man spoke up, “She was there, but they said her body was stolen.  Then she popped up outside.  That’s why they’re on their way.”

The girl pulled away from the woman, “NO!  LOOK WHAT THEY DID TO HER!!” the girl was screaming.  She ran to Jessica’s side and put her hands on Jessie’s face.

Then the woman was screaming and the man was rushing across the room.  The girl was lying on the ground holding her hand with blood gushing onto the floor.

Jessica watched Kayla roll around on the floor.  She was missing some fingers for some reason.  It looked like they had just been cut off because she was bleeding profusely and screaming at the top of her lungs.  What happened?

Looking at her sweater, Jessica noticed that there was blood all over it and three fingers in her lap.  It was ruined!  Not to mention, she wasn’t sure how the blood and fingers had gotten there.  Was she cut and what was that noise?  It was like someone was screaming.

Looking up, Jessica saw a woman dragging a girl out of the room.  She wanted to know what happened.  The girl was hurt.  Who were they?  There was so much screaming; not just the girl, but there was screaming outside as well.

The people were gone from the door and in their place were two men dressed in blue uniforms pointing guns at her.

Jessica Redux – Chapter 2 – Scene 3

Jessica sat down on a small concrete wall.  There was a wall around the front of her school.  She must have been at school because Rabbit was at school.  He got in trouble.  He needed her there because … why was he in trouble?

There was a strange sound behind her.  Like it was raining outside.  For a moment, she thought that she might be in her house and that it was the gentle sound of rain pattering on the windows.  But it was so dark, she couldn’t tell if she was inside or sitting outside.  The lights around Jessica seemed almost like stars surrounded by the blackness of the void of space.

A brighter light appeared in her vision, but like all of them it was haloed by pitch.  The light flashed left and right.  Back and forth the light moved before suddenly, it spoke to her.

“Miss?” the light said.

Jessica could barely hear the voice.  It was trying to reach her ears through what must have been a cone of cotton gauze.  Looking up, she tried to see where the voice had come from.

“Are … you … okay Miss?” the voice behind the light asked.

Okay?  Jessica wondered if there was something wrong.  The light wouldn’t ask if she was okay if there wasn’t something wrong.  But Rabbit was in trouble.  She had to find Rabbit and make sure he was okay.

“I need to take you back to the hospital Miss,” the voice said.  “Are you okay?  You don’t look good Miss.”

Hospital?  Was Rabbit in the hospital?  She knew he was in trouble, but didn’t know he was in the hospital.  It was dark.  That was it!  He had gotten hurt during the game!

“Let me help you up Miss,” the voice said and a hand reached out to her from inside the light.

Sinking her teeth into the flesh of the hand, Jessica tried to relish the feeling that the meat was alive.  She could almost feel the warmth, feel the way the skin and muscle moved.  She could feel it jerking and trying to pull away from her.  Where she felt numb, the hand felt real.

There was screaming, a shrieking scream in her ears.  Was it another car?  Maybe it was another car with lights made from gleaming fire and ice.  No, that car made a different sound.  As she considered it, she remembered, those were police cars that did that!

She was biting someone, biting a man on the face.  She couldn’t remember how it happened.  He must have attacked her!  She had to fight back, she couldn’t let him rape her.  Jessica tried to fight, but her hands felt weak and soft … she couldn’t even really feel them at all.

Lying on the ground, Jessica looked up and saw the gorgeous man with the hellfire blue eyes next to her.  He was kneeling beside her and smiling widely with brilliant white teeth.  What was that sound next to her?  Screaming  again?

“Good work,” the man smiled.  His voice was the song of a gentle viola, “I’m very proud of you, but we need to get you home.  You aren’t safe here.”

Safe?  Jessica staggered to her feet amidst the pool of blood.  In the distance, she could hear the cries of more police cruisers.

“This way,” the man with the blue eyes said, “We’ll get you home.”

Home.  She was supposed to go home.

Watching the man through the darkness of her vision, she followed him through what seemed like bushes and trees, tunnels and drainage ditches.  All around her, she could hear the muffled cries of police cruisers, more and more of them singing to the sky.  Time seemed frozen, it wasn’t passing … or maybe it was passing quickly.  Trying to follow the man made Jessica’s mind spin.

Putting her hand on the polished door, Jessica paused.  Where … where was she?  The only thing echoing in her head was the word “home”.

Staring at the door, she didn’t know what to do.  What was it for?  There was a brass knob on it, that gleamed out at her like a gem, a beacon in the darkness of her vision.  It was pretty.  Pretty.  Pretty.

At the edge of her hearing, she could detect the muffled sounds of a voice inside the home, “Police are now saying that at least twenty people have been attacked in the last two hours.  Currently, they have few leads and cannot identify the attackers.  Police have stated that they are searching for one person of interest in this strange outbreak of violence,” one voice said.

The darkness was growing hazy.  As Jessica stared at the brass orb on the door, trying to understand what she needed to do, the halo of pitch around the orb lightened.  It was as if life and warmth were trying to push their way through the shadows in her eyesight.  Gradually, the orb gleamed more brightly and the darkness transformed into a translucent haze.

Was it morning?  Evening?

A subtle sound reached her hearing, but it didn’t come from outside, it was inside her head.  It was a voice.  A quiet and gentle voice that draped over her like a blanket.

“You’re late Jessica,” the voice whispered.

Turning slightly, she seemed to know where the sound was coming from.  Next to her was a monstrous, gentle entity composed of countless tongues and eyes.  It had four calm faces on its head that faced in the cardinal directions and drifted on a seemingly infinite number of wings.

“You were supposed to join me Jessica,” the calming creature said to her mind.  “You have to let go.”

“JESSIE!!” a voice shrieked behind her.

Turning awkwardly, she saw a man and woman standing behind her.  Who … who were they?  They seemed familiar to Jessica, there was a special place in her memories for them.

Mom and Dad.

Jessica Redux – Chapter 2 – Scene 2


Jessica was supposed to go home.  But there was something wrong with Rabbit.  He was in trouble wasn’t he?  Maybe that’s why she was going home.  He was there.

Jessica dragged herself up the sidewalk that lead away from the hospital oblivious to the alarm that had been sounded inside.  A corpse was missing.  But it couldn’t have gotten up and walked away, someone had to have stolen it.  The police had to be contacted, they needed to look for the person that stole the body.  Security was already reviewing the cameras.  They would see who did it and would be able to direct the police.

It was so dark outside.  Everything was haloed in black and Jessica could only walk from one light post to the next.  She knew she had to go home, she knew she had to eat, but those were the only things she could remember.  How did she get out onto the street?  Was she walking home from work?

A car raced past with fire and ice blazing on top of it.  It screamed at her, but she couldn’t understand what the scream meant.  To the undead woman, the sound was nothing but a muffled shriek careening through the tunnel of her hearing.  As fast as the car appeared, it was gone with its fire and ice lights on top and its wailing scream droning in the distance.

She was alone again with her thoughts, but no thoughts were there.  It was so hard to think.  Home.  She was going home, but where was she coming from?  She wondered if she had been at the game.  Had her high school team won?  But that didn’t make sense, she would be driving home, not walking.  She must have pulled a muscle too because her leg didn’t want to work.

“Well, well,” she heard a strange voice from the fog.  There were lights, some kind of lights, but they were dark all around the edges, like colored beams wearing Hell’s halo.

“Hey bitch, I wanna talk to you ’bout something,” the voiced echoed to Jessica through the fog of her hearing.

Unconcerned with the random noises, she paused as she bumped into something.  It was a car.  Where had the car come from?  It hadn’t been there a few moments before, but there it was now.  As she stood dumbfounded, wondering how long the car had been there, someone grabbed her shoulder.

“Hey!” a young man whirled her around, “I’m talkin’ to y …”

Jessica stared at the young man for a moment.  He was big, but not muscular.  Probably fifty or seventy-five pounds overweight with black hair and a black hooded jacket.  Who ..?  It was Reuben.  What did Reuben want?  Was she in school?

“What the fuck ..?” Reuben stepped back, “Happen …”

Eat.  She remembered two things.  She was supposed to go home and get something to eat.  The young woman heard a voice next to her reminding her of what she was supposed to do.

“Aren’t you hungry?” the voice asked as she turned.  It was a horrifyingly handsome man with blazing blue eyes dressed in a police uniform.  “He looks good enough doesn’t he?” the man asked.

Someone else, a blond boy grabbed Jessica by her sweater, “Dude, she’s all fucked up,” he said.

The boy.  Mark, Marvin ..?  What was his name?  She couldn’t remember.  She must be in school, these kids wouldn’t be here if she wasn’t in school.  It was so dark under the red glowing lights.  Kwik Shop, she read.  The lights spelled Kwik Shop.

The boy shrieked as Jessica bit down on his arm.  With all her might, she bit as hard as she could.  She knew her teeth where tearing through his skin and she could almost make out the gritty feeling of the shredding flesh, could almost feel the warm blood.

“Get off him!” she heard someone yell and then she couldn’t see.

There had been a sound, a dull thud.  Now she was looking at the ground.  She wasn’t home, she remembered.  They had carpet.  Maybe she was outside.  Playing basketball in the driveway with Rabbit.  But … Rabbit was in trouble.

Biting down on the arm that had grabbed her, she savagely tore into the meat on the chubby forearm.  The gritty sensation of chewing flesh was nice.  At least it was a sensation.  There may not have been any taste, but she could at least feel the blood and the sinews of the skin.  It was … alive!

“Holy shit bitch!” Reuben shrieked.  He had picked Jessica up after hitting her, thinking that he could intimidate her, but now she was biting him too.  Grabbing the woman, he threw her over the car.

“Bitch bit me!” his friend yelled, trying to cover the wound.

Why was she lying on the pavement?  She must have tripped trying to shoot.  But … she never tripped.  She was too good to just fall.  Standing up, she looked up at the light above her.  It was red and green and haloed in black; Kwik Shop, it said Kwik Shop.  She was supposed to be going home.

It wasn’t far then.  She stood up slowly, wondering why her legs seemed weak.  Not far and then she would  be home.

*  *  *

The police response time was under three minutes.  Jessica heard the squad car scream past, flashing the fire and ice on top, but she didn’t care.  They couldn’t find the boys that had assaulted the young woman nor could they find the girl.  But they had a missing body still to find.

Jessica Redux – Chapter 2 – Scene 1

Tossing the IV tubing to the ground, Jessica began pulling the tubing out of her throat while looking around.  It was hard to see.  The lights were really bright, but it was dark.  Dark all around the lights.  Where was she?

Tossing the tubing to the ground as well, she tried to stand up.  Her legs were weak.  They didn’t seem to work.  Or feel.  That was it, they didn’t really feel.  It was like her legs were asleep.

Steadying herself, Jessica noticed she had her hand on a bed beside her.  Had she been in that bed?  She couldn’t remember being in the bed or where she was.  There was tubing all over the floor too.  Somebody had made a mess.

Why couldn’t she see?  Pushing her hair out of her face, she noticed her sweater on a steel table.  Why didn’t she have her sweater on?  How did she get where she was?  She couldn’t be naked in public.

Rabbit.  She … remembered Rabbit was in trouble.  For what?  He was in trouble here, had to be.  She was here for him.  Shambling, she struggled to pull on her sweater while trying to find the door.  What was wrong with her?  Something must have happened.  Maybe it was something to do with Rabbit?

Finding the doors to the sterile, dark room with the bright lights, she pushed them open and stared into the hall.  It, like the room she had been in, was bright, almost painfully bright and smelled of alcohol and disinfectants.  There was another smell too … something sweet and vile.

Where was everyone?  It was quiet.  She couldn’t hear her own footsteps.  It was like every sound was coming to her down a tunnel, muffled and echoing.  Choosing a direction, she shuffled down the hall … was she dragging a leg?

A doctor appeared at the end of the hall.  Where had he come from?  The man must have been there the whole time, maybe she was just seeing him.  She and the man were in a hallway, but she couldn’t remember how she got there.  She must be going to meet the man.

He paused for a moment and studied her.  Tall, frighteningly handsome and possessing the most beautiful blue eyes that sparkled with malicious intelligence, the doctor watched her closely.  She tried to say something to him, wanted to ask where she was, but nothing would come out.  No words.

Why couldn’t she speak?  And why were there no doors in the hallway?  Jessica looked around, there were doors, but the darkness in her vision was clouding and camouflaging them.  How could it be bright and dark at the same time?

Maybe the doctor would say something.  Why wasn’t he saying anything?  In all his horrifying beauty he just stood there, watching her ever so closely.  Say something!  He seemed so far away.  If only she could reach him, ask him for help, but her legs.  She still couldn’t feel them and the left one didn’t want to work.

As Jessica drew closer, the doctor said something.  She could see his mouth moving, but the sound wouldn’t reach her.  All she could hear was a drone like the sound a child makes when talking into the hose of a vacuum cleaner.

He was talking to her and pointing.  He kept his gorgeous, blue, hellfire eyes locked on her, but was mouthing something to her and pointing.  He even nodded while talking.  It was one word.  The closer she got the more she could see that he was saying just one word while pointing.  One word.


He was saying home!  That was it.  But … what … home?  That word seemed special.  The doctor nodded again, mouthing the word.  Home.  She needed to go home.  That was it!  Home.  It was dark so she needed to be at home.  Or was it light?  But what about Rabbit?

Following the doctor’s pointing hand, she saw he was motioning for her to go through the window, motioning for her to go home.  Home was through the window.  Passing the doctor, she could hear him speaking and could finally make out the words through the foggy tunnel in her ears.

“… so beautiful.  You’re magnificent,” the doctor said, his voice carried the sweet melody of a violin playing a dirge.  “You should get something to eat on your way home.  Aren’t you hungry?”

Pulling herself to the window, she looked up at the doctor.  Hungry.  What did that word mean?  Why was she having so much trouble thinking?  Maybe …

She turned and took one last look at the stunning man.  If he was a doctor, why was he helping her?  Home.  He was sending her home.  That was it.  She had to go home and eat.  Doctors wanted to get you home and wanted you to eat.

Why did she need a doctor?  What had happened?  How did she get into the hallway?  The lights were so bright, but it was so dark around the flickering tubes.  And who was the beautiful man in front of her?  Why did he frighten her?  Her heart wasn’t pounding … she couldn’t even feel it, her hands weren’t shaking, they were numb, but she was afraid of him all the same.

The wind from the open window blew her hair around her face.  Was it cool?  She couldn’t really feel it.  And when did she open the window?  What was happening to her?

She had to go home.  She had to eat.

Jessica Redux – Chapter 1 – Scene 3

Doctor Gilbreath steeled his nerves and took a deep breath, “Mr. and Mrs. Capadelli, we’re doing our best to make her as comfortable as possible.  If you want to see her, she might have a few more minutes.”

Carol Capadelli, strong as she was, swallowed hard, “There … there’s nothing y … you can do?” she managed to ask.

The doctor scratched his gray head, “I wanted  to tell you that there is one more thing we might try.”

“Do it,” Tony said without hesitation, patting Rabbit on the shoulder.  The young man merely sat next to him with his head in hands.

“There are two biological agents that Phizer is developing that might give you a little more time with her,” the doctor continued.

“What part of ‘do it’ did you not get?” Tony barked, but Carol put her hand on his chest to calm him down.

Doctor Gilbreath sighed again, “It hasn’t even gotten to animal testing, but they have two custom viruses.  The SR-14  has successfully kept nerve cells from dying in tests and the T-9 does the same for muscle cells.”

“So you’re going to inject her with viruses to keep her alive?” Carol asked, scratching her own blond hair.  Seeing the doctor scratch had made her own head itchy as well.

“We think it will help her survive organ failure,” the doctor said while quickly holding up a hand to quiet Tony, “But you have to understand, she’s suffered massive brain trauma.  Her quality of life will be severely degraded.”

“You’re talking about keeping her brain alive while her body dies?” Rabbit asked, looking up through his hands.

“Pretty much,” responded the doctor uncomfortably, “We don’t think she’ll be in much pain and she might be able to communicate.  It might give you some time with her before the nerve and muscle cells run out of fuel.”

Carol sat down next to Rabbit, “Would she know us?” she asked.

The doctor shook his head, “Honestly, I think there’s only a one percent chance it will even work.  If it does, she might recognize you.”

“I still don’t get what you’re missing?” Tony pushed forward, “Dooo Iiiit,” he enunciated.

Doctor Gilbreath nodded, “If you want to come with me we’ll give it a try.”

Carol and Tony followed the doctor into the operating room.  He stopped by the machines that were keeping Jessica alive, “Get the T and SR viruses, we’ll give it a try,” he said to the nurse.

Tony knelt next to his daughter.  Her right eye was dead, nothing but a white orb.  The doctors had tried to stitch her face together, but the skin was torn loose under her eye.  Tubes were forced down her throat, keeping her breathing, defibrillators kept her heart beating erratically and her blood pressure was reading fifteen over zero.  The morphine dripped rhythmically with the beeping of the instruments.

Quickly, the nurse returned with a syringe.  The ECG went flat just before the doctor injected the contents into her IV.  The defibrillator shocked her again, trying to restart the young woman’s heart.

Doctor Gilbreath turned to the ECG.  Jessica’s heart stopped again and the defibrillator shocked her.  The machine tried in futility for a few moments to get some signal out of the teenager’s heart.  Nothing.

The doctor sighed and watched the line stay flat.  Quietly, he turned off the respirator that was still forcing air into her lungs.

“I’m really sorry,” the doctor sighed and guided the couple out of the operating room.


*  *  *


Sitting up, Jessica pulled the IV out of her arm.

Jessica Redux – Chapter 1 – Scene 2

High school: that odd little microcosm of drama, hormones and life building events that is a right of passage for so many.  But for Jessica, life at Bradley Collins Central High School was just another step in her day.

Quickly finishing an “OMG” to Melissa, she stuffed her phone into her purse before pausing next to Lisa.  Lisa was a bit of an outcast;  hung around the wrong guys, smoked and drank.  But she was also smart, pretty and a damn good setter for the volleyball team.

“Hey Lisa!” Jessica smiled, “So hey, I wanted to ask you something.”

At most schools, the most popular girl in school stopping to talk to someone outside her click would be considered a social faux pas.  At Bradley Collins, if Jessi didn’t stop to talk to you, you were either dead or not there.

“What’s up Jessi?” Lisa asked, looking up from her phone.

“Okay, I’m just going to come out and say it,” Jessi smiled widely.

“You’re not going to come out are you?” Lisa laughed.

“No, but … wait, why would you think ..?” Jessica stopped and shook her head, casting off the confusion of why Lisa would think she was gay.  “Anyway,” she blinked, “We need a good power forward.  Tryouts are in two weeks.  Wanna try out?”

Lisa shifted uncomfortably, “Well, about that.  See, Mark and I  …”

“Oh no!” Jessica covered her mouth with her hands in shock, “Is everything okay?”

As student after student filed into the school, Lisa’s lip trembled, “He … left.”

Jessica quickly grabbed Lisa in a hug, “We’ll have lunch and talk about this okay?”

The flow of students turned into a flood and Jessica looked up from her friend as Jay tapped her on the shoulder, “It’s Rabbit, Jessi!  He put Reuben through the commons door!”

Even though Jessica lived her life with as little drama as possible, Bradley Collins refused to bend to her will.  Her boyfriend, Harry “Rabbit” Updike, was the self-declared defender of any victim in the school.  Reuben had been bullying Dao for weeks and evidently Rabbit had decided to step in.

“Dammit!” Jessica barked, “Lunch okay!?” she yelled to a nodding Lisa as she bolted through the halls.

She caught up to Rabbit in the Admin Offices.  He was sitting in one of the chairs with a contented smile and red knuckled hands.

“What the hell Rabbit!?” she barked, stopping in front of him with both hands on her hips.

Harry looked up at her with his blue eyes and boyish grin, “Reuben again.”

Grabbing him by his Boston Celtics t-shirt, Jessica yanked her boyfriend to his feet, “Harry, you’re going to get suspended!  You can’t police the world dammit!”

The secretaries snickered at the spectacle, one that had played out several times over the years.  The school had even had to set up a hearing process because Rabbit’s “Defender of the Weak” heroics had spread like a plague with more and more fights breaking out over bullying.

The bell rang for first period and Jessica tossed her boyfriend back into his seat, “You and I are gonna talk after I get off work,” she ordered, pointing at him as she walked away.  “Coach is gonna bench you this time.”

It was an empty threat.  She and Harry both knew that his coach wasn’t going to bench his starting shooting guard.

The rest of Jessica’s day went smoothly as usual.  She had a good lunch with Lisa and they both made a plan for telling Lisa’s parents, classes were boring except for Honors Senior English and she only had to diffuse three fights between her basketball teammates over who’s boyfriend was messing around with whom.

Satisfied with her day, Jessica said goodbye to her friends and climbed into her little blue Honda as her phone started working overtime.  Pulling out of the student’s parking she texted with one hand while driving with the other.  Thank goodness for automatic transmissions.  How could people possibly stay in touch with a stick shift?

Two messages to Lisa, one to Rabbit and three to Carrie got her to the stop light.  Why did everyone have so much trouble?  Couldn’t they just stay out of bad situations?

Accidentally dropping her phone, she checked the light to be sure it was green.  All good.  Ducking down again, she quickly snatched up her lifeline to the world and sat back up.

The grill of the tractor trailer was only inches from her face.

Jessica Redux – Chapter 1 – Scene 1

Jessica waited at her bedroom door like a champion sprinter waiting for the gun to fire.  In the silence of her dark room, she could hear her father finishing his shower.  Her muscles tensed as the shower stopped.

Only a few more seconds.

Hearing the bathroom door open, she made her break.  It was her chance, she had to get there before her sister or her chance at a shower was over.  Sprinting, she exploded through the hallway, her auburn hair streaking behind her.  Only a few more steps.

“Morning Daddy!” she blurted while nearly knocking her balding father off his feat as she streaked past.

Shaking his head and grinning, Tony Capadelli chuckled.  The door had hit him in the ass on his way out.  Teenage girls.  He snorted in amusement.

Jessica, or Jessi as everyone called her, quickly wrapped up her morning ritual, simple as it was.  She didn’t worry too much about makeup or intense hair rituals, simplicity was its own beauty in her mind

Going downstairs, she joined her father at the kitchen table where he was diligently typing at his laptop.

“Good morning Daaaahhddy,” she cooed, going to the refrigerator.  She and her sister always pronounced “daddy” that way when they wanted something.

“No,” he responded without looking up.

Taking out the jug of milk and setting it on the counter, she feigned ignorance, “No to what Daddy?  I was just wishing you a good morning.”

“Uh huh,” Tony responded, looking up from the monitor for a short moment.  “Just a good morning,” he chuckled again, looking back at his monitor.

“Well yeah,” Jessi giggled, grabbing the Special K out of the cupboard, she sat it next to the milk.  “What’s wrong with a girl wishing her Daaahhdy a good morning?”  She picked up a bowl and started pouring her cereal.

“Because she really just wants the keys to the Cadillac,” her father said without looking up.

“So I can!?” Jessi sat down at the table.  Her excitement exploded like a party balloon.

“No,” her father chuckled again, scratching his scalp.  “You have your Scivic.”

“But Daaaaad,” Jessie started, but Tony stopped typing and raised his hand.

“You earned your Civic, Mom earned her Caddie,” Tony explained.

Munching on her cereal, Jessi quickly swallowed, “But you didn’t really earn your Jeep,” she whined.  Jessi was good at whining, she had spent seventeen years perfecting it after all.

“Having to put up with you guys?” Tony looked up again, “I deserve a freaking Ferrari.”

Jessi pushed out her bottom lip.  It never worked, trying to cute-con her dad into things.  But heck, there was always a first time wasn’t right?

Tony gave her that half-smile he always did when his mind was made up and then went back to his computer.  Jessi’s dad always did his best to make sure his kids had everything they wanted, but he had an annoying habit of making them earn it.  So even though mom made enough money for everyone to retire early, Jessi had to buy her own car, a powder blue Honda.

“Hey Dad!”

Drat!  Her brother Alex was up and already downstairs.  There went her chance to con her way into the pink Caddie.

“Hey big guy,” responded Tony, again without looking up.

“Dad, we still going to Zombie Death Battle tonight?” Alex asked, pouring himself a bowl of Cap’n Crunch.

“Dude!” Jessi squealed, “I’m totally going!”  Tony, Alex and Jessica had always had a weird relationship; football, bad horror movies and worse food.

“Gross,” Kayla said, joining everyone at the table, “Dad, can I go with Missy to the new Hunger Games movie tonight?”

“You don’t want to go to Zombie Death Battle with us?” Tony asked.

Jessi chuckled.  Her dad knew darn well that Kayla wouldn’t go to Zombie Death Battle with them.  She was a girly girl, she didn’t do video games or zombie movies or basketball or … well, any of the fun stuff.

“Shut up Jess,” Kayla barked.

“All right you two, don’t even start,” Tony started to intervene, but Jessica decided to keep it going by sticking her tongue out at Kayla.

“Daad!  Jess stuck her tongue out at me!” Kayla said, filing her complaint.

“Really ..?” Tony started again, but Jessica jumped into the fight.

“Well somebody woke up on the wrong side of the bed?” Jessica said, grinning.

“Both of you shut up!” barked Tony while the girls continued to make faces at each other.  “Kayla, take your brother to school.”

The fighting having been diffused, Jessica finished her morning ritual and headed to school.  It only took a couple of minutes to drive to the high school, but she managed to fit twenty two text messages into the drive for she reached the first light.

Looking up she jammed on the breaks causing the little car to skid.  The light had changed!

“Dammit,” she cursed, dropping her phone just as a big pickup crossed the intersection.

The man in the truck watched her drift into traffic while digging for her phone and could only shake his head.

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